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This is One of The Most Useful Things [single]

by Dafydd Roberts & John Harvey

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The track is derived from an open-studio event in the 'Live Art: Dialogues' series. 'Live Art' is a generic term that describes acts of individual or collaborative, innovative and explorative, performance practice. It can be undertaken in relation to one or more art forms. 'Dialogues' is an occasional series of experimental and experiential exchanges between the visual and audible arts. The discourse is through improvisation: a free-style creative act that exists in the moment, in the instincts and intuitions of the individual, and in the participants’ reciprocal response to each other’s activities. (It may, but need not have, an audience.) Exchanges takes place within the ‘laboratory’ of the School of Art’s Project Room. It provides a controlled environment in which the collaborators can learn, invent, test concepts, devices, and methods, make trial of different models of practice, and record ideas. Two determinations govern the collaboration: action and consideration; (to make in order to understand and to understand what has been made).

Dafydd Roberts and John Harvey, together and independently, respond to the sound made by a printer’s drying rack. The layers of the rack were articulated from bottom to top. The binding and rubbing of its metal hinges created an eerie and reverberant screeching. A recording of the source sound was treated through a series of analogue and digital synthesisers and filters, in bid to explore and extend its sonic nature.

The structure of the rack’s layered shelves was acknowledged by stacking seven versions of the source track one on top of the other on a digital audio software’s visual interface. The pitch of each track was rendered an octave lower than the one above it. In the composition, a ‘dry’ (that is to say, unmodified) version of that signal was sent to one pair of inputs on the mixer, and two ‘wet’ (that is to say, modified) versions of the same, to two other pairs. In this way, the characteristics of both the original recording and the drying rack’s sonority are preserved alongside the modulated versions of the same.


released November 23, 2016
Personnel: Dafydd Roberts and John Harvey.

Instrumentation: Adobe Audition CS6, Apple MacBook Pro (x2), Audiomulch, Eventide ModFactor, Eventide PitchFactor pedal, Eventide Time Factor pedal, Eventide Space pedal, FMR RNLA 7239 compressor and gate unit, Moog CP-251 Control Processor, Moog MF-101 Low Pass Filter, Moog MF-102 Ring Modulator, Moog MF-103 12-Stage Phaser, Moog MF-104M Analog Delay, Moog MF-105 Midi Murf, Moog MF-108M Cluster Flux, OTO Biscuit, Presonus Studiolive AR8 mixer, Sherman/Rodec Restyler, and TC Electronic Nova Reverb pedal.

Context: Live Art: Dialogues4, The Project Room, School of Art, Aberystwyth University, Wales, 12 November 2016.

Source: Print drying rack, School of Art, Aberystwyth University, Wales, recorded and remixed 20-22 October 2016.

Compositions by: John Harvey.
Engineered and produced by: John Harvey.
Cover Concept and artwork by: John Harvey.
Cover image: drying rack, School of Art, Aberystwyth University, Wales, UK.
Conceived and mastered at: School of Art, Aberystwyth University, 2016.
All compositions ℗ and © 2016 Dafydd Roberts and John Harvey.


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John Harvey Ceredigion, UK

I’m a practitioner and historian of sound art and visual art, and Emeritus Professor of Art at the School of Art, Aberystwyth University, UK. My research field is the sonic and visual culture of religion. I explore the sonic articulations of the Christian religion by engaging visual, textual, and audible sources, theological and cultural ideas, and systemic and audiovisualogical processes. ... more

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